Lesson 2: September 8, 2019

1 Samuel 1:9–20 People often feel that no one hears them when they express their deepest desires. Is anyone really listening? Hannah, who had no children, asked God for a son, promising to dedicate him to God’s service, and soon she conceived and gave birth.

God Answers Prayer

Bible Background • 1 SAMUEL 1:1–2:10
Printed Text • 1 SAMUEL 1:9–20 | Devotional Reading • PSALM 99

Aim for Change

By the end of the lesson, we will: RECALL the story of Hannah’s desperate longing for a child, REFLECT on longings for God to intervene in our lives, and PRAY with confidence that God will provide what is best for us.

In Focus

One day, Kenny collapsed in a chair and just shook his head. He asked God, “Why haven’t I heard from the Young Leader’s Fellowship Program for grad school?” Since all of his friends were accepted, he began to wonder what was wrong with him? Every time he thought about the situation, it made him angry.

The next day, Kenny and his friends were playing a pick-up game of basketball. AJ kept blocking his shots. When AJ went to shoot, Kenny purposely tripped him. AJ jumped up, slammed the ball on the court, and told Kenny to stop acting like a big baby. Before Kenny could respond, Jamal jumped in between them to cool things down. Jamal told Kenny he needed to get it together. They asked what was wrong.

At first, Kenny sharply said, “Nothing.” His friends told him he was lying. Kenny finally told them he was upset because he hadn’t heard from the Fellowship Program. They assured him things were going to be okay. He just needed to relax and pray.

When Kenny got home, he saw a letter from the program in the mailbox. He hesitantly opened it, and then shouted, “Amen!” He had been accepted. Kenny quickly sent a group text to his friends.

How do you help your friends who are unable to move forward? As a believer how does your faith encourage you when you are struggling?

“Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:17, KJV).

“‘In that case,’ Eli said, ‘go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him’” (1 Samuel 1:17, NLT).

The People, Places, and Times

Hannah. She was the devoted mother of Samuel and wife of Elkanah. Hannah sought the Lord before she conceived and gave birth to Samuel (1 Samuel 1:5–11). Every year, she and her husband Elkanah went to the sanctuary at Shiloh to offer sacrifices to the Lord. She devoted her son to the service of God and offered a “prayer of thanksgiving for God’s blessing” (1 Samuel 2:1–10). Hannah also gave birth to two other sons and two daughters.

Eli. He was the high priest of Israel with whom the prophet Samuel lived during his boyhood years. Eli, a devout but flawed priest, was the father of Phinehas and Hophni, who were killed by the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 2:12–25). Eli died upon learning of their deaths (1 Samuel 4:1–18).

Background

Samuel is noted as the last judge and a prophet. During his time, Israel underwent a shift in leadership from judges to kings. Samuel would anoint the first king, Saul, and would also anoint David as king. While there is much debate regarding who wrote the books of 1 and 2 Samuel and when they were written, we can be sure they were originally one book that told the story of the rising monarchy after the time of the judges. Together, these two books as one book are considered part of a collection of books called the Deuteronomic history. These books are Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.

In this first chapter, we are given Samuel’s birth story. His father, Elkanah, was married to Hannah and to Peninnah, as polygamy was the common marital system of the time. Peninnah was able to bear children while Hannah was barren, like many other women in the biblical text (e.g., Sarah [Genesis 17:16–19], Rebekah [Genesis 25:21–26], Rachel [Genesis 29:31; 30:22–24], Samson’s mother [Judges 13:2–5], and Elizabeth [Luke 1:5–17]). This opening chapter shows the persistence of Hannah’s prayers for a child explicitly while God had shut her womb. Peninnah bullied and provoked Hannah to the point of tears, yet Hannah received a double portion of Elkanah’s sacrifice because he loved her.

Prayer is a practice in which we all need to engage. How does Hannah teach us that we must be persistent in our prayers?